July 18, 2021 Subject:
Polished like a golden bowl
Here is an updated and expanded review of this show, and this source is the best sounding source period, and well deserving too.
“Please forget you knew my name” ….
This show is easily one of the best of the last shows. Garcia is electric the entire night as well as the band. A ripping’ Picasso Moon and they are off and running. This band always loved playing Atlanta and many past shows confirm that fact. An almost perfect finish to Picasso, which was too often a train wreck, with Jerry playing some really cranking runs in the last two-minute jam. Then just listen to the notes Jerry is playing right before Sugaree, like plucking stars from the sky and then you get the best Sugaree since 11/17/83. The intensity of the tone of "Bolt" is great and Jerry lays it all on the line. Clocking in at over 16 minutes it is surely one of the longest on the 1990’s. Jerry first solo is quite nice and this one features a brisk tempo too and Vince is rally in his element this entire show, as Jerry passes the second solo off to him and Jerry is playing some nice accompanying runs. Then Vinny switches to the B-3 tones as he passes back off Jerry for his second solo and this is where Jerry starts to really build up the intensity and it starts to peak extremely nicely at the 6:52 mark, which Jerry playing some fast-strumming chords. Jerry goes off for over another 2 minutes before he brings it down nice and sweet before going back into the third verse.
Then Jerry is ready for his third solo after singing the chorus. At the 11:30 mark Jerry even starts to play some nice slide guitar bending those sweet note as only he can before he begins the final verse. “Shake it up Sugaree, I’ll meet you at the jubilee.”
This passage is quite innovative, and he once again goes for sweetness and nuance rather than peaking intensity. A wonderful juxtaposition to see how many shades of dimension Jerry could reveal into this song. There are a very minor vocal flubs during the final verses, which is unfortunate but sadly not uncommon for this year. Although it is not too bad as Jerry really took on a wonderful journey on this gem.
The good times continue the entire first set with a rocking’ AON, with Jerry really being on point, his tone is so good this entire show, as Bobby taking a commanding stance and Vinny really sounds good on the electric piano. They slightly botch up the ending and Jerry plays some cool slide at the very end to emphasize that misstep.
As many may be aware up next is easily one of the great latter day So Many Roads. Jerry starts off extraordinarily strong with taking two amazing rounds in his first solo, and Phil is finally up more in the mix and musically counters him at every step. The ending is entirely focused on the vocals as Jerry keeps repeating “ So Many Roads” over and over, I do prefer him starting his final solo at this point, but he continues on and at the 6:41 mark he voices jumps several octaves and it may have been mistake as he continues to try to sing in that upper key, he drops back down to his normal range and ends the song quite nicely and on a reassuring note.
They end this just over 50 minutes set ends with a majestic Let it Grow. Jerry’s first solo is pure brilliance, and he really is dialed in, he does pause for a moment before finishing this first solo, but his tone is so expansive and rushing like a raging’ river before he adds a slight taste of MIDI before Bobby jumps into the final verse. You next get a five-minute tour to force race to the finish as Jerry starts cranking up his lightning speed run, and lays of the MIDI too, which is my preference. The return to the final chorus is textbook perfect.
Aiko opens the second set and is one of the best of the '90's, as Jerry is really quite nimble, and the tempo is much faster than versions from the 1980’s. Vinny is on the B-3 once again and Phil is much more predominate in the mix. Jerry simply attacks his first solo, as it has all those New Orleanian and Caribbean influences that made this one such a crowd pleaser. Jerry even throws down some extra vocal verses that would often not appear too often. Jerry’s main solo has him mastering the MIDI quite nicely and he delivers a jubilant solo that goes on for numerous rounds. Vinny struts his stuff in an extraordinarily good version of Way to Go Home.
So often was the case in this band’s 30-year history the peak of a show was going back to their roots, where they could muster up a couple songs, or more, that would feature some great jamming. On this night we get a great taste of that in the first set with Sugaree and Let it Grow but it always had to be in the second set where the sparks would really begin to fly. On this night, the Playing> Uncle John’s Band is the perfect of example of this on the middle show, of a three-show run.
The jam in Playing is five minutes longer than usual and is great, and after leaving the final verse they start off in a different key then they usually would do in this slower tempo rendition and by the 6-minute mark things are progressing quite nicely, as Phill is really engage with Jerry and Vince is really helping compliment things quite well too. The tone takes on the days of the fall of ’72 at this stage and we still have nearly seven minutes to go until Drums. At the 9:30 minute mark they come up for air, like a massive humpback whale before beginning a deep dive for more krill. Once again Jerry is laying off on the MIDI, which helps keep the improvising focused and moving forward and they really hit a nice crescendo at the 12:30 mark, with Jerry bending some sweet-sounding notes. Phil starts hinting at UJB at the 13:30 mark but Jerry keeps going on some more improv and Bobby plays some nice countering to this section as well. Jerry then starts to tease the beginning of UJB’s for a couple minutes and he really plays some cool licks before he gracefully begins strumming those joyful notes. I always loved how they would often play more of an instrumental introduction in this latter day’s versions
Uncle John's Band brings it all home, as it is played at a slower tempo than a 1980’s version. Jerry’s first solo is pure joy and is full of conviction. The end of Uncle John’s in the 1990’s was a launching pad for some more improvisation, and we get a thirteen more minutes on this version and it gets pretty wild at the end, almost like they are back in a PITB jam. As drums tries to start Jerry, Phil, Vince and Bobby are still on stage playing along, which sounds wild, as Jerry has on some gnarly distortion, before he turns it off an goes back to that clean tone and this is very fusion inspired.
Billy and Mickey are anxious to get going and hurling themselves into a fast-paced duel with Billy still on his set and Mickey playing his hanging drums and eventually the Tar, but they are only going on for about four minutes before Bob Bravlove takes over, although I believe Mickey is still on stage. This passage is intergalactic time travel stuff, it is particularly good if you appreciate this part of the show. Bobby and Phill return first back on stage and Phil is playing some cool stuff. I was not a fan of Bobby’s tone at the end, as it was very scratchy sounding.
The intro to the Days Between is awesome, as Vinny or Bralove adds some whispering air effects and then Jerry comes back onstage. This song says much about Hunter's take on giving up and regret and Jerry really made this his best song of the end of career with the Grateful Dead, and on this night, it is a stellar version that they played and Jerry’s final plea “Lies between” is deeply moving.
“The singing man is at his song
The holy on their knees
The reckless are out wrecking
The timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
Than anyone can see
Anyone can see”
If that does not hit home, I do not know what will. Look in the mirror kids and what do you see?
The Sugar Mag is very much happening and a cause for celebration, but the SSDD simply cascades with that great energy we all love as Bobby drives it home in that communal way, that we the faithful, all appreciate.
Even the Law is fun and granted the second set is just over 97 minutes, which may be shorter than many would prefer it does packs everything in those warrants the historic reverence that I have displayed in this review.
I will now jump on my soap box. As we all know, and to this very day, it is still extremely hard to reconcile that the end was tough for Garcia, and tragically it was his time to pass on, but for the 41 times, out of 137 shows since 1980, I saw him in ‘94- ‘95. I just gave thanks and unconditional support, along with the thousands of others singing and dancing next to me. We knew that a show was always the place we could leave who were at the door and become part of something bigger than ourselves. A gathering that required, maybe invited, or did not even ask at all, for us to give our all to something that was bigger and grander than our individual lives. We all took part in 30 years experiment and believe it or not is still going on to this very day.
Remember we are the ones still here. Jerry gave that to all of us, he was our surrogate father for Pete's sake, and we could not change him, but God damn he helped change us. What will be his legacy be? It is the music ofcoarse. The music that inspires, captivates, and transformed many souls on this plane and yes that music could drive us nuts and we could obsess over what they played or did not play, and it could be maddening, especially if you are reading this review. But it is what it is, and the music deserves to be heard.
I for one would not have wanted it any other way. You simply do not erase or ignore history because you are not happy or thought Jerry “lost “it or thought the “new” songs sucked. That was a big problem with the collapse of the scene, and we were all enablers to a certain degree, and ironically “too much of everything was NEVER enough” for too many of us, me included.
That sort of explains why I am still spending hours writing reviews and listening to shows. In many ways we all were a big pain in the ass at the end for Jerry, so maybe we should be apologizing to him for a change?